Monday, December 30, 2013

Looking Back... to See Ahead

As I sat clearing out my camera's memory card, in order to make space for new pictures,
I couldn't help but notice this one taken last year right after Christmas

My daughter
My mother

three generations of women
traveling together
and headed to a single destination

three generations of women
in different stages of life
and riding with

different positions
different postures
different perspectives

My daughter, the youngest, sitting in back... looking down
Me in front...looking back, and
My mother, the older and (perhaps) wiser generation, right in the middle... looking straight ahead

Life has so many


and at some point we must consciously decide which outlook we will take

This year God has helped me learn to appreciate them all because

When I looked down...

at my surroundings
the kids
or in His Word

He taught me about becoming a Mary or a Martha
how to take a bow,
stay under His wing, and
what to do when Jesus sleeps

Then He allowed me to look ahead...

to learn how to navigate an obstacle course and bring my nest to the light

and finally in looking back...

He provided a light bulb moment, while reminding me of
the beauty and pain found in crunching leaves

I now see that He has been using these

different positions
different postures
different perspectives

to teach me the same exact lesson...
again and again!

A lesson in seeing Him no matter where I am in life


trusting that since

He is faithful
He is with me (and in me)

that in Him, I will win

every time...


So as I stand at the end of this stage

I am filled with gratitude and grace

finally willing
to embrace each phase

knowing that He will continue to

teach me
guide me
show me

the proper time to

look down...
look back...
look ahead...

(sharing this today)

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Christmas Aftermath

It must have happened sometime between midnight and 3am...
My feet got cold so I moved in closer

When he felt me shivering he pulled me in, and asked "what's wrong?"


I mumbled, still half asleep

"Well here, put these on..."
he said pulling off his socks and handing them to me

and I

didn't realize
didn't remember

until later when I fully woke and wondered...

How did I end up in his socks?

And then the faded memory became clearer...

We've celebrated the birth of Christ and what
His presence
His present

really means...

how God unrobed
became a man and died
so that we might be clothed!

He said
"Here, put this on"
"Wear my garment"
"I'm here now, I'll hold you close and protect you from this cold world"

And then we wake to find that the entire family has also
been affected
been changed

and that a new perspective has been gained...

from the child who once stayed indoors

who now heads out to glory in a new day...

to the highly active, "never-sit-down" child 
who comes inside to find a quiet place to worship...

He's caused a change...
and maybe it happened sometime between midnight and 3am

because I woke this morning clothed...

and thanking God for
His presence
His presents

and the realization that this is more than just

Christmas aftermath

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Take a Bow

It was the day of the Christmas musical and the Kindergarten class was up first...

I smiled when I saw my four students had been grouped together and placed center stage

"She did that for me"...
I stated out loud

"She did that so I could get them all in one picture"

I knew that she remembered they had all been

my students...
my babies...

and now my students
were her students

And when they started to sing
I smiled
because I could see them all

and I thought that she had given the best gift by grouping them all together like that

I thought that she had made my day...

until God (not willing to be outdone)
gave more

when as they finished the first song selection, the one that I had called my "Cuddle Bug"
stopped and took a bow

The other three looked at him and smiled
then appeared to look out to us in the audience

as we sat grouped together too

his mother
my mother
with me in the middle

then after the second song... he bowed again
the third song... he bowed
the grand finale... he bowed

and gave us all a good laugh while providing yet another lesson in gratitude and grace

This is what the season is all about

bowing in humility
and appreciation

for the best gift that has already been given

And so since the work is complete

all there is left to do
is sing the song...

and take a bow

(not because we are so great, but because we are so grateful!)

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The Difference Between Him and Us

We ask...
"Who am I?"
and spend our lifetime figuring it out

He says...

"I am Who"
and spends our lifetime proving it

Merry Christmas
from our family to yours!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

"APFLH" Children's Art Studio- Flavors of Fall (Painting)

Saturday mornings in the art studio with friends has become one of my weekend favorites!

Noticing... silence fill the room as young artists concentrate on their work
Seeing... the unique creations their little hands plan and produce
Witnessing... the look on parent faces upon viewing their child's finished art pieces

all reminds me to stop and cherish...

and the wonderful "Flavors of Fall"!

Water Color Art
Water Color Paint
Skinny Paint Brushes
(optional extras)
Colored pencils

(And of course my favorite new quote made an appearance)
Print Painting
Popcorn Kernels
Paper Leaf Cutouts
Construction Paper

And that completes our "Flavors of Fall" series which also included...
Join us in the New Year to create..."Dream Boards"!

Saturday, November 30, 2013

A Lesson in Winning... Super Bowl Champs

Yesterday it rained...


and for the life of me I couldn't figure out why the coach didn't cancel practice
(I thought he should have canceled practice)

so I called my hubby at work just to be sure

My 11yr-old said

"Mom, it's football.  We still play even when it rains."

So much to my chagrin, my daughter and I bundled up to drive him
to the High School Football field for practice in the pouring rain

I was secretly hoping they would cancel practice once we got there, but was quickly informed...

"It's the Super Bowl.  We still have to practice because tomorrow
we're playing the team that beat us last year... in the rain"

So they practiced...

as it rained...

for two and a half hours

After practice the coach called all of the parents over and asked us to stand with our kid

He said

"Everybody link up"
"Take a knee"
"Look at me"
"Arrive on time tomorrow"
"Leave it all on the field"
"Play smart"
"Play clean"
"Play like big boys"
"Have fun"
"Let's win"

Then just as I thought he was finally finished he said...

"Let's go watch film"

(which meant another hour and a half of)

watching past games from the opposing team's season

He said that while it is important to

hone our skills

we can't stop there, we must also know our opponent

"Watch their plays"
"Spot their weaknesses"
"Build on our strengths"

to put together a winning game plan

Yesterday it rained...


But today...

the sun shone bright
we played the game
and won!

And I learned that...

Winning is not just the outcome of the game
Winning is also everything else that leads up to it

because in order to be a champion

you must first


like a Champ!

Carson Colts Blue
Jr. Pee Wee 2013 Super Bowl Champs!

Friday, November 29, 2013

The Same Black Dress... and a Sweater

It takes a while for the weather to cool here in Southern CA, so even well into November,
it is not uncommon to see people still walking around in shorts and sandals

As for me?

You'll catch me in my...

Only now, also with a sweater!

The New Black Dress


The Same Black Dress

My daughter asked one day if she could choose how I wear my black dress...

So next time, I will be "Styled by Mo"
(click here see what my little 9-yr. old fashionista came up with!)

Monday, November 25, 2013

"APFLH" Children's Art Studio- Flavors of Fall (Mosaics)

I am quickly learning that the Children's Art Studio is not just for kids...
In fact, we had so much fun last week with our "Flavors of Fall" Gratitude Collages that I could hardly wait to get back in the studio again!  This time the children and I sat down and created our masterpieces with supplies that we already had...

Bean Mosaic Art
Cut up pieces of a cardboard box
Beans, seeds, or other choice items
First we sorted black beans, pinto beans, and navy beans...
Split Peas

Bird Seed

Red Beans

Organized the beans into separate containers...

Traced our designs and glued beans onto cardboard...

and ended up with these final designs...


"When you use what you have
to do what you love...
That my friends,
is true art"
-Tondra Denise

(Flavors of Fall studio time will culminate with... "Water Colors and Print Painting")

Saturday, November 23, 2013

He Opens Doors

"I'm in sixth grade now"... he proudly proclaimed upon seeing her again

Micah and Mrs. H- September 2013
I watched the two of them as she stopped to look at him, shaking her head in disbelief

"Wow, sixth grade already?  It seems like just yesterday I tested you for Kindergarten!"

She looked at me smiling and I knew what was coming next as she directed her attention back to him...

"I'll never forget that as we were leaving the testing room you said,
'Let me open the door because that's what a man does for a lady.' 

She had never heard a five-year-old speak in that manner and

6 years
3 months and
150 students later

she was still talking about him

There are few things that make such a lasting


but some things touch us so deeply
that we remember...

We remember that

After the time of testing, He opens doors

opens doors
while reminding us that He is the Door
perhaps really saying

After the test, I will open myself to you

open myself
reveal myself
allow myself

to become transparent enough for you to see


And His Word leaves

an impression
an indention

reminding us to thank Him

for fond memories
completed tests


opened doors

Mrs. H and Micah- June 2008

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

A Child's Lesson... Family Encouragement and Graffiti

I stumbled across something interesting the other day while reviewing old conference notes...

The "Four Directions of Family Encouragement" Model
which suggests there are four effective forms of communication within a family

downward- (parent to child)
upward- (child to parent)
inward- (to oneself)
across- (parent to parent, child to child)

our gallery wall before our house flooded

our gallery wall after the "2014 house flood"

As I stopped to review the notes, I thought about what this looks like in my own


and realized that following the path...


leads right back to the cross!

Then my 11-yr. old son helped me understand it even better one day
as he explained something to his little sister

She had asked why people draw graffiti, and I listened quietly as he broke it down for her

He said...

"I completed an assignment in 5th grade about three pegs

a circle peg
a triangle peg
and a peg in the shape of a cross

No matter how hard you try to fit the circle peg into the cross peg hole
only the cross peg will fit
That's how it is in life... 
We are all born with a hole in our hearts the shape of the cross

but sometimes we try to put other stuff in that hole like

or other bad things

but the cross is the only thing that will really fit there
We have to put Jesus in that space 
Well maybe that's why people draw graffiti... because they're trying to fill a hole."

And his answer sufficing her, made me smile, as I realized that

the path
the protocol
the pattern

for family encouragement had been laid

and that God is always graciously willing
to use any one of us...


to lead


right back to the cross!

Has your heart been filled?

Click to read... A Lesson at Lunch

Monday, November 18, 2013

"APFLH" Children's Art Studio- Flavors of Fall (Collages)

I love how Autumn has a way of awakening the senses with
the coolness
the crispness
the colors
and smells

the rich flavors that seem to bring back a flood of childhood memories...

My favorite part is being reminded to

slow down
give thanks
and spread joy

spending time with the ones that I love

This November we opened the Children's art studio and invited friends to share their favorites with...

Gratitude Collage Art

Child Friendly Magazines

Children were prompted with... "what are you thankful for?"
and glued magazine cutouts to create their "Gratitude Collage Art"

I have experienced

so many blessings
so many lessons

that it was impossible to fit them all onto one collage board, but I started with
"I'm thankful for..."
restorative gifts
the smell of fresh brewed coffee
the gift of humor
music and singing
believing the Bible
my friend. my rock
bare feet
and I couldn't forget to add that I'm also thankful for me!
What are you thankful for?

(Join us next time as Flavors of Fall continues with... Mosaics)